created at: 2012-06-03This afternoon, Prozdor held its 87th graduation ceremony, proudly conferring diplomas on seventy-nine of the most outstanding Jewish teenagers in Greater Boston.

One of the hallmarks of Prozdor graduation is the student speakers. Excerpted below are words from three of the speeches, each of which has a unique message about the power of the Prozdor experience for these three incredible young people. I’m sure you will find their words enlightening.

Ariella Honig (Stow, MA/Nashoba Regional HS) shared the following words:

To be honest, I know every single person in this room has complained about Prozdor at one point or another. Whether it has to do with waking up early, taking a suburban bus for an hour, doing projects for core class, or sitting in classes for four hours when all you can think about is your big test the next day, it doesn’t really matter… there’s a kvetch for everyone! But at the same time, you have to admit that the benefits of Prozdor far outweigh these minor complaints.

Each one of has our own “Prozdor is” list, a list of unique experiences that we will take with us and never forget. As you reflect back on your Prozdor experience in the years ahead, I challenge you to think about these unique experiences you had instead of the minor complaints you had about Prozdor. My enduring memory of Prozdor will be a place where Jews came together to build a community based on friendship, learning, and finding their Jewish identity. I will always remember my years here and hope Prozdor will always be as powerful and as meaningful for future graduates as it was for me.

Jacob Fischer (Newton, MA/Newton North HS) shared this candid observation:

One of the reasons I was hesitant about joining Prozdor was due to my busy schedule. Throughout my time at Prozdor I have been playing various sports, mainly baseball. You might think that it would hard to keep up with my Jewish education as well as baseball, but that wasn’t the case. Prozdor allowed me to do this by being flexible about attendance and understanding that Prozdor was just one of many things I was involved in.

And it’s not just me- many of my friends also do extracurricular activities such as dance and theater. In this graduating class there are musicians, model UN delegates, varsity athletes, foreign language award winners, and talented artists. All of us, by being here today, have proven that doing Prozdor does not come at the cost of having many interests and activities. For all of us, Jewish education is important, and we were willing to make a commitment to continue with our Jewish studies long after many of our peers took the easy way out.

Lastly, Samantha Perlman (Marlborough, MA/Marlborough HS) spoke about her Prozdor experience:

Prozdor for me is about the friendships and the connection to my Jewish heritage. Every Sunday, I have incorporated myself into the Prozdor family, a family in which I feel supported by my fellow students, teachers, and administration. I am encouraged freely to speak my mind and express my opinions.

Different backgrounds. Different opinions. Different interests. Different ways of life. And yet one thing binds us together: Judaism. My classmates and I are at the close of our collective Jewish journey, where the trip has been as rewarding as our end result of graduation. Together, we have established a niche within the Jewish community. Our eyes are now opened to the endless possibilities appearing before us. As the Prozdor website so clearly dictates, “Prozdor is an opportunity to discover what being Jewish means to you.” Without a doubt, I know that each of my classmates and I have gained a better understanding about our Jewish heritage.

Prozdor was my cocoon. I came in as a caterpillar unaware of the road that lay ahead, one filled with insight into my Judaism. Today, at this moment, we all have become butterflies, ready to spread our wings and explore the real world. Congratulations Prozdor Class of 2012, we did it!

In addition to these three graduates, Ben Eisenberg (Newton, MA/Newton South HS) and Caroline Nunberg (Newton, MA/Newton North HS) delivered a highly entertaining Hebrew speech that would be hard to summarize in this context- suffice to say that it was quite funny and demonstrated superior Hebrew skills.

Mazal tov to all of our graduates!